Type: TV Series (26 Episodes)
Genre: Action/Drama
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 9/12/04


The great Leslie Nielson said, “There are some women you’d just love to have kill ya.” That about sums up the initial appeal of Noir, an anime featuring two lovely female assassins. Mireille Bouquet is one of the top names in the hitman (or hit-woman…however that works) business, and one day opens an email from one Kirika Yumura. This email has a melodie attached that stirs up something hauntingly familiar within Mireille, and she can’t help but meet with Kirika and try to find some things out.

It turns out that both girls are missing some memories of their pasts. They are also somehow linked together. To work towards the goal of finding out their respective origens, the ladies team up and form an assassination duo, using the name “Noir.” Throughout the series, the two are always taking jobs which lead them in the direction of discovery. While doing so, the two have an agreement that when they get the info they want, Mireille will kill Kirika (as an assassin can’t have people knowing her identity). Many a similar premise has been touched on before, but I personally can’t recall one with such an odd union.

Unique story aside, the real fruit of this saga is the action sequences. Mireille and Kirika are both highly trained and extremely talented in their…”art,” and this show is an action anime, so you know there’s a ton of potential for sweet moves to be on display. In Noir‘s case, the creators used that potential, especially in the first half of the series. The battles between the Noir girls and the mysterious “Soldats” clan that is trying to knock them off are exciting to watch, even several times over. The creativity displayed is some high-caliber stuff. Some of the better gunfights I’ve ever seen are contained within this series–again, most of which are in the first half. And the sheer heartlessness displayed by the ladies never ceases to impress.

Screen Shot
The series has some great fights, mostly in the first few episodes.

Through all of this, Noir flaunts its amazing soundtrack. The visual effects are of a satisfactory level, but nothing extraordinary. The music, however, really puts on a show. This should be expected, though, as Yuki Kajiura composed the bulk of it. The soundtrack is lovely inside and outside of the show.

Ah, but there is a downside. You see, the previously talked-up action slows down a few notches in the second half of the series. While the first 13 episodes completely rock your face off, Noir‘s plot jerks the spotlight away, in the manner that a large toddler might yank a toy from another. I hate that kid, and I hate what happens to Noir on the downslide. The story is okay and everything, but the amount of flashbacks to the same freaking scene gets so annoying, and many of the fights in the latter portions of the show just don’t contain much originality. Granted, the ones in the first portion are tough acts to follow, but some of the action in the later episodes is borderline ridiculous.

Additionally, the story keeps building up to a certain “ritual” that the bad guys are going to perform, but the writers really don’t describe what that entails. It’s like it was just thrown in there to give purpose to the last half of the show. Perhaps this is why the latter half is so inferior to the first–it was dragged on longer than necessary. I’d be willing to bet that this series could have been comfortably finished in 20 episodes, rather than 26. The production team seems to have gotten just a little bit carried away with an initailly good idea, and the show paid the price.

It’s fairly easy to set the mentioned flaws aside when you know that Noir does ultimately satisfy. Even in the slow episodes, a few neat things do occasionally happen. It’s just sad that the series couldn’t maintain a better balance of action and story through its entirety, rather than appear to be one thing, and end up being another. This is an overall good anime, worthy of praise, but the late dragging keeps it away from its true potential.

-Heath Hindman